Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Are Unmarried Men Over 40 All Losers?

(NOTE: Jim's blog is now devoted to answering relationship questions submitted by readers. Please submit any questions you may have to jim@attorneyatlove.com).

DEAR JIM: I'm 42 and have never been married. I had the chance to when I was a lot younger, but I thought I was too young. Maybe I shouldn't have waited, because it seems like every unmarried guy in the age range I'm looking for (40 to about 50) is a loser of one sort or another. If the guy has never been married, he's either got commitment issues, or he's lacking in social skills, or he drinks too much or has some other unattractive qualities. If he's divorced, he's either angry at women or so desperate to find a new one that he wants to hook up before he even knows you. The really good men I know are all married, and I'm beginning to think that I'd be better off having a part-time relationship with a married man than a full-time relationship with a single one. Am I wrong? ("Lynne" in Las Cruces, New Mexico)

DEAR LYNNE: I certainly sympathize with you, and I agree with a lot of what you're saying, but I think you're wrong that a married man is the answer to your problem.

Yes, in general the best men over forty are married. But not every married man is a good one. Some are worse than unmarried men; the only reason they're still married is that their wives are, for various reasons, not willing (yet) to divorce them. And a married man who is looking for an affair wouldn't seem to fit the definition of a good man.

I'd rather see you look harder for an unmarried man who's right for you---and I have to believe he's out there. You could start by going where the men go. Living in New Mexico, you have access to a wealth of outdoor activities. There are singles groups---often with more men than women members---devoted to hiking, biking, rock-climbing, skiing, softball, and just about every other athletic pursuit you could imagine. If sports are not your thing, I'm sure there are music festivals, wine-tastings, street fairs, and other events nearby that bring out plenty of singles in the age group you're talking about. Getting involved in political, conservation, or social-action groups is a great way to meet passionate, like-minded men, some of whom are going to be single.

If you're into online dating, you should consider e-harmony.com. Even though they have more women than men in their membership (about a 60-40 ratio), the men who are members tend to be serious about forming "real" relationships. Unlike the men who post free ads on craigslist or join free sites like plentyoffish.com (where men greatly outnumber women), men who are willing to pay a substantial monthly fee and answer a lengthy compatibility questionnaire know what they're looking for and are willing to go the extra mile for it. (By the way, I have no financial interest whatsoever in e-harmony or any other dating site).

Good luck, Lynne, and let me know what happens.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Is the Coupon Queen Going Overboard?

(NOTE: Jim's blog is now devoted to answering relationship questions submitted by readers. Please send any questions you may have to jim@attorneyatlove.com).

DEAR JIM: My wife and I are in our thirties and have two pre-school kids. My wife is a stay-at-home mom, which is what we both wanted. (My income, fortunately, is enough to support all of us). I feel a little guilty writing to you about my wife, because she's a wonderful wife and mother, but over the past year or so she's really gone overboard, I think, with using coupons to buy things for next to nothing. I appreciate the fact that she's saving us money, but our home is starting to look like a warehouse. What used to be our guest room is now packed almost to the ceiling with napkins, paper towels, and toilet paper. I'm afraid to open a closet door for fear that some cereal boxes will come crashing down. As I say, I hate to complain because my wife's intentions are good and in the long run she's saving us money, but I'm starting to worry about her. Is there a way I can get her to stop, or least slow down, without sounding like I'm criticizing her? ("Scott" in Tennessee)

DEAR SCOTT: In the interest of full disclosure, let me confess that I tend to go a little overboard myself when it comes to sales and coupons. We probably have a two year supply of tooth paste, dental floss, liquid hand soap, and other health and beauty aid products. Fortunately, our house has a lot of storage space, and I'm careful not to buy too many perishables, or products with a short shelf life.

So, I'm sympathetic to your wife. She's undoubtedly motivated, at least in part, by a desire to contribute more to your family's financial well-being. Even though, as you say, you're happy with the job she's doing as a stay-at-home mom, she may feel she needs to do more. She probably had a job outside the home before the kids came along, and she may feel guilty that she's not generating any income these days. To compensate, she's saving money. If she can save fifty or a hundred dollars a week, or even more, by buying things on sale and using coupons, it's like having a part-time job. As long as she's not charging everything to a high-interest credit card that you're only making the minimum payments on, or buying so much frozen food that you have to buy a second freezer just to store it, she is undeniably helping out the family financially.

But there is such a thing as too much of a good thing. Many years ago the psychologist, William Glasser, coined the term "positive addictions" to refer to activities that were fundamentally positive ones, but which, if overdone, could become negatives (such as a person who takes up running to lose weight, and then runs far too many miles each day and winds up needing knee surgery).

My guess is that coupon-clipping has become a positive addiction for your wife. I'm not necessarily saying she needs psychological help, but addictions---even positive ones---should at least be closely monitored and kept from becoming harmful. You want to be sure that your wife's sense of self-worth isn't tied too closely to her ability to keep getting incredible savings each week, because then she'll never be able stop or even slow down.

Because your living space has already been affected by your wife's shopping, it shouldn't be too hard to suggest to her that she take a breather for a while. You want to be careful not to criticize her; in fact, you'll want to stress how grateful you are that she's saved all of you so much money. You might want to suggest that you "spend down" your supplies until you're down to, say, six months' worth of non-perishable food and twelve months' worth of paper goods and other non-food items. That way, you'll gradually get your house back to normal---or something close to normal---and still let her have fun saving money when it's time to re-stock.

Good luck, Scott, and let me know what happens.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Why Don't "Sexy" Women Want Sex?

(NOTE: Jim's blog is now devoted to answering relationship questions submitted by readers. Please send any questions you may have to jim@attorneyatlove.com).

DEAR JIM: I'm 48 and have been divorced a little less than a year. I've been using online dating sites for the past six months, and I'm getting frustrated with women who say in their profile that they're "sexy" or "sensual", but when you meet them are not really interested in having sex. Do all women like to use sex as a kind of bait-and-switch tactic? ("Alan" in Washington, DC)

DEAR ALAN: I suppose there will always be a certain percentage of women who use sex as a come-on and a tease, but my guess is that you're dealing with something different. The vast majority of women in their thirties, forties, and beyond do enjoy sex but they only want to have it with a man they feel a genuine connection with. It's a rare woman who will have sex on a first date, even if the man is interesting and attractive. Most women need to know a man better, need to trust him and be comfortable with him, before they'll go to bed with him. Even a woman with a high sex drive is going to wait until the time seems right.

It could be that you're trying too hard. If, when you go out with a woman for the first time, you're constantly hinting that you'd love to sleep with her, she's going to pull back. She probably knows, instinctively, that a relationship based primarily on sex is not likely to be a long-lasting one. And if you make uninvited sexual suggestions in your initial online messages, there probably won't even be a first date.

My advice is to be more relaxed and less goal-driven. Don't go on a first date with the mentality that either the two of you are going to have sex that night or the date was a failure. Let things evolve naturally. If you're genuinely attracted to her and want to see her again, you can let her know that in a subtle way. Don't drool over her or keep glacing down at her breasts. Compliment her, but don't go overboard with the compliments. Let her know you're interested in seeing her again, but don't appear desperate or pushy. In fact, when it comes to sex, the harder you push, the less likely it is you'll get it.

Good luck, Alan, and please let me know what happens.